Switzerland Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

Switzerland is a rich and very diverse country with one of the most advanced economies in the world. It is divided into 26 cantons, in which four official languages ​​are spoken. Thanks to their history and achievements, the Swiss are experienced and proud traders who offer, but also demand, fair dealing, quality and trustworthiness. The conclusion of a business contract may take longer, but the mutual business relationship and agreement is usually all the stronger. Considering that a quarter of the population is made up of foreigners, in the end you don’t have to deal with a native Swiss at all. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Switzerland culture and traditions.

Addressing

Especially in the time of the coronavirus, it has become almost a rule to approach business partners via online communication channels, through which the Czech exporter can present his company, product or service. This form of communication will certainly continue to be used. However, personal contact is irreplaceable in many respects, which is why we always recommend hiring a local sales representative or PR agency familiar with the local market and environment. Another way to reach business partners is to participate in a trade fair in Switzerland, the Czech Republic, or anywhere in the world. For example, around seventy Swiss companies regularly exhibit at the MSV in Brno. Thanks to its large membership base and many Czech-Swiss activities, the HST Chamber of Commerce Switzerland – Czech Republic, located in Prague, offers another possibility and way to reach business partners.

Business meeting

After successfully approaching the Swiss business partner, it is time to arrange the first business meeting. The possibility of an online video call exists, however, in this case the advantages and importance of a personal meeting are indisputable. The Swiss plan well in advance, so it is important to make an appointment well in advance. Incidentally, this also applies in their personal life, whether it is, for example, “just” a friendly visit or a joint walk with the children to the playground. The Swiss partner measures time in francs. Therefore, we recommend providing him with as much information as possible in advance so that he knows what he can get for his invested time. Otherwise, he will refuse the meeting or send a representative. The meeting place must be chosen according to the need and focus of the business meeting. You will exchange business cards with the elderly owner of a traditional Swiss company in the restaurant of the Bellevue Hotel, send them to the CEO of a modern start-up over the phone in an organic cafe. Arrive five minutes early for an appointment; the well-known saying about Swiss watches did not come about by chance. Be prepared for the fact that negotiations in the German part may look completely different than in the French or Italian part. People in these cantons are different not only in language, but also in character, culture and customs. Negotiations, however, tend to be substantive and non-emotional. So be yourself. Don’t joke! The Swiss often do not understand our humor. Don’t be too familiar and be careful about touching, especially in the time of the coronavirus. Be careful with alcohol. The Swiss have a different relationship to alcohol than the Czechs. In the French part, a glass of wine with lunch will be a matter of course. Rather small beer in the German one. Come to the meeting dressed decently, especially in Geneva or Zurich, people tolerate fashion. There is no definition of an ideal negotiation team.

Communication

The official languages ​​of Switzerland are German, French, Italian and Romansh. Except perhaps for Romansh, the language of the given canton is preferred in business negotiations. Knowledge of the language of the canton in which the Swiss business partner operates is always an advantage. The Swiss tend to be well-equipped with the language, so it is usually not a problem to conduct negotiations in English. However, this is not always and everywhere the case. In the French cantons, however, we recommend using English rather than German. The official language of the canton is also required for business materials. However, it always depends on the agreement between both parties. A personal meeting must always be arranged in advance.

Recommendation

  • Communicate systematically and prepare for meetings. Get ready for a matter-of-fact and direct to measured partner. The Swiss are not afraid to go into conflict, so it is advisable to prepare well for negotiations and be factual.
  • Apply the ability to improvise. In addition to adapting to the Swiss organization, it is also an advantage not to give up the Czech ability to improvise and to exercise creativity.
  • Present yourself confidently. A high-quality and modern website and promotional materials play an important role in the presentation of the company. Continuous and very active professional marketing promotion is key to a stable position on the market. Get inspired by the Swiss competition.
  • Don’t be afraid to call. Due to the formal and often measured way of communication, you will find out much more from a telephone conversation than from simply communicating via email.
  • Don’t always bet on being able to communicate in English. In small and medium-sized companies, without German or you cannot avoid French or Italian. Knowledge of these domestic languages ​​is always an advantage, it increases the “comfort” of communication during longer cooperation as well as credibility in front of a Swiss partner.
  • Meet deadlines and be reliable. Reliability, pragmatism and punctuality are necessary for the long-term development of business relations with Swiss partners.
  • Do not underestimate the Swiss partner and his knowledge. Do not inflate prices unnecessarily. Thanks to their position, Swiss companies have perfect information from almost the entire world.
  • Just a good price and quality is not enough in a demanding concentrated market. Design and innovation are now a selling point and a competitive advantage. Don’t forget about certifications and references. Switzerland is a demanding market.
  • Look for a sales representative. The Swiss are excellent businessmen – look for sales representatives with already established distribution channels. It is a financially and time-efficient route to the Swiss market.
  • Get to know not only your customers, but also your competition – go to fairs. Switzerland is known for hosting international fairs.

Public Holidays

National, cantonal and church holidays are celebrated in Switzerland.
New Year
Saint Berchtold – only in some cantons
Three Kings – only in some cantons
Good Friday
Easter Monday
Labor Day – only in some cantons
Ascension Day – Thursday 40 days after Easter
Whit Monday – 10 days after Ascension Day
National holiday of Switzerland – all-Swiss
1Assumption of the Virgin Mary – only in some cantons
1.11. All Saints’ Day – only in some cantons
25.12. – Christmas holidays
26.12. – Christmas holidays The

holidays differ from canton to canton.
For example, May 1 is a working day in the canton of Bern, a holiday in the canton of Zurich, in the canton of St. Gallen has half a day off. Some places have a few working hours on local holidays (e.g. the onion market in Bern in the month of November).
Holidays in individual Swiss cantons can be found on the FEIERTAGE Schweiz website.

Switzerland Culture of Business